Android 4.2 makes its debut

It might not warrant a catchy new name, but Android 4.2 is certainly a significant launch, with plenty of new features to play with.

Top of the playing pile looks to be the Photo Sphere camera, which takes images in every direction, which you can view on your phone, share on Google+ or add to Google Maps. Novelty it is, but it's likely to be a lot of fun too.

On a more practical note, Android 4.2 comes with Gesture Typing, which means typing with a glide of the finger over the keyboard, the software putting in the space and, if you like, predicting the next words to complete sentences. Improved Text-To-Speech is here too if you want to give your fingers a rest.

As predicted, Multiple User comes to tablets, with each user given their own home screen, background widget, apps and games. No need to log out either, multitasking means you can just flick between users. Talking of sharing, you can also now share movies, YouTube videos and anything on your screen wirelessly to an HDTV, as long as the TV has a wireless display adapter connected. Handy.

Other features include Daydream, which displays 'useful' images and information when your device is idle or locked, expandable / actionable notifications accessible from the top of the screen, an improved Google Search with voice control and Google Now for all the information you might need instantly, such as weather, transport, popular nearby photo spots or flight times, to name just a few examples. But it also scans your correspondence to keep a check on anything you might have missed, which is either helpful or a little bit 'Big Brother'. Take your pick.

Finally, a few changes have been made to the engine. According to Google, the new OS makes everything 'fast, fluid and smooth', with 'buttery graphics and silky transitions'. We like the sound of that. It's also said to be easier to personalise your home screen - as you place widgets on the screen, everything else automatically moves to make room. Widgets also resize to fit the space, which keeps things neat and tidy.

So an impressive set of new features, which are all included on Google's new set of Nexus devices. When is it rolling out? Well, as Jelly Bean itself is still struggling to make inroads, we really haven't a clue. Although there's always a chance that some of the phone makers will miss out 4.1 and go straight to 4.2 when updating.

We can dream...

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